Nearly 10 years ago I attended my first AAUP meeting. At the time, I was a newly minted marketing and sales director for Rutgers University Press. At that point in time my experience bag was packed with 8 years with what’s now considered the biggest textbook publisher in the world and the had been at the biggest publisher in the world, and three years at the oldest publisher in the world. In 2007 I was had landed at what was neither the biggest, nor the smallest. I often compared myself to a salmon swimming upstream.
Aside from knowing practically no one at this meeting, I’d never been to Minneapolis before in my life and didn’t know quite what to expect, yet my director insisted AAUP was a great meeting for new members and press directors. Over the years I’ve gone perhaps half a dozen times, and each time I’ve met and reconnected with bright intelligent publishers and fascinating colleagues staying the course in this space called scholarly publishing. With surprisingly little turn over, I look to learning about courageous entrepreneurs passionately breaking new ground in what could be described in an industry turned inside out.
I’ve thumbed through the pages of this year’s program, and see surprisingly few acronyms and silver bullet sessions. In past years, everything was social media, or POD, XML workflow, or how to better align with your university. This year the sessions seem more foundational, or perhaps those are the ones I’ve chosen to attend. I’d classify them as a reenvisioning the nuts and bolts.
I’ve been in the director’s chair at The University of Cincinnati Press just shy of 150 days. Forget posting every day. My somewhat arbitrary goals of posting every week, once a month, on the momentous first 100 day were never far from my mind. Dozens of words running through my mind, yet never taking the time to pause and put them down on paper. No matter. I’ve learned the burden of starting a new press is the first decisions made. For a new director these decisions can define your directorship. For a new press, these decisions become the foundation for the profile formed in authors and peer presses minds about The University of Cincinnati Press. What’s that phrase about Rome and a day… No matter, the discussions and engagement both in and out of the university are moving forward and the road ahead is ready for breaking ground.
So here we are at nearly the halfway mark. In 5 months in I’ve assembled 40% of the faculty board, created the framework the organization to come, spoken to a few dozen authors, set up a handful of procedures and grown from a staff of one including myself to what will become a staff of 5 by September. And now, I make my way to my seat at the table amongst 140 globally savvy, fearless, UP directors. No doubt I’ll be explaining why Cincinnati a few dozen times, what’s different, did we really need another university press? All of these questions are important, and I am eager to invoke discussion with the University of Cincinnati Press vision ever present on my mind:
“The University of Cincinnati Press explores new modes of scholarly publishing which shrink the distance between author and reader and expand the traditionally published book dynamically using interactive data visualization, robust media-rich content and writing that goes beyond a discipline-specific examination to uncover common issues and create new lenses of discovery in a stable environment. The Press seeks to establish a highly sustainable collaborative, mission-based university press business model through the unique utilization of library and university staff in an effort to reduce cost and shift the footprint of university presses from ancillary to essential within their host institutions and academic fields. By fusing the efforts of the University Press with library publishing services and scholarly communications, The Press forms a publishing continuum of expertise, service, influence, and opportunity with strategic agility, innovative responsiveness, and lasting financial diversification.”
So when asking Why Cincinnati, you may just year, Why Not.